Yesh DinVolunteers for Human Rights
In the system established immediately following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Palestinian civilians charged by the IDF with criminal offenses are tried and sentenced in the IDF’s Military Courts.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been prosecuted in these courts since their founding – about 150,000 of them since 1990 alone. Yet despite this vast volume of activity, the Military Courts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) operate in near complete darkness: they are run with virtually no transparency, are subject to very lax internal supervision, and are rarely exposed to any public scrutiny.
Yesh Din's approach
In 2006 Yesh Din launched a special project whose purpose was to examine the proceedings in the Military Courts. Following a lengthy preparation and training period, Yesh Din volunteers monitored Military Courts in the West Bank in order to examine and document their application of due process rights. Throughout the span of one year, Yesh Din monitored over 800 court hearings.
In December 2007 Yesh Din published its finding in the report "Backyard Proceedings: The Implementation of Due Process Rights in the Military Courts in the Occupied Territories." A comprehensive report, the first of its kind, Backyard Proceedings is based on the organization's observation of Military Court hearings, as well as interviews with attorneys and court personnel, additional research, and figures received from the IDF upon Yesh Din's demand. An analysis of the findings led to the formulation of recommendations to make significant changes in various areas in the activity of the Military Courts in the OPT.